Yesterday was sort of a waste of a day off. It stormed. It rained. Going outside was essentially pointless, so we stayed in and worked on getting Spooky's laptop reloaded. The Geek Squad guys retrieved all her data, and gave her a neat little external hd. But yeah, not much to yesterday worth mentioning. Spooky made a pot of chili. We re-read passages from Danielewski, because he calms me. I obsessively watched the Amazon sales rank for The Red Tree, as it went up, and down, and up, and down, and up....
Please do order a copy, if you've not already. Or pick one up in a bookshop. Either way, it helps. Official release is still August 4th, but it seems to be out on shelves everywhere.
Much of yesterday evening was spent fretting over whether or not to proceed with the book trailer. Getting the footage tomorrow, that's no big deal. But an enormous amount of time and energy will have to go into editing it. And we're on a clock. We're already about six weeks late, and hoping to get it out by August 14th (while I also prepare to begin the next novel, work on Sirenia Digest #45, and a short story for a YA sf anthology, and editing The Ammonite Violin & Others, and I have that appearance in Boston on August 6th). Yesterday, I was doing more research into whether or not anyone knows if book trailers actually sell books. The verdict is, of course, no. No one knows, and there's really no way of knowing. In a June 7, 2008 article, a writer for the The Wall Street Journal concluded, ""There is scant evidence . . . that the average book trailer actually has much impact on book sales." And here's a long quote on the subject from the Build Buzz website:
"It is very difficult to find a direct and concrete link between book sales and any form of promotion, whether it's a video on YouTube, a review in a magazine, a blog Q&A with the author, or a radio talk show interview. Collectively? Sure. If you're out there getting the book's name in front of your target audience and the book is selling, it's safe to say that your hard work to promote your book is paying off. But linking sales to one individual tool is a challenge.
"Let's say your book trailer on YouTube motivates someone to buy the book. You can't link from your video's YouTube page to your book's Amazon or Barnes & Noble page, which means there is no direct connection between the video and the purchase page. If the video motivates somebody to purchase, they have to leave YouTube and search for your title on a retail site. How could you possibly track this? You can't really connect sales to videos unless you're retailing your book yourself from your own site and are tracking incoming links to your purchase page.
"The only way we can know if a book trailer is helping to sell books is if it's the only promotion tool out there working on the book's behalf. Even then, you don't know if other factors are influencing sales as well -- factors that might include strong support among independent retailers known for hand-selling books they like or a viral marketing campaign started not by the publisher or author but by a fan."
Now, truthfully, I knew all this going in, when this idea belatedly occurred to me, way back in May. But I never imagined, at the time, that on top of this inherent uncertainty, we'd find ourselves facing the time crunch we're looking at. In many ways, I've stopped looking at this as a "trailer," and more as a short film (I've said that before) expressing some splinter of The Red Tree. That has become my motivating force, to make a film that is artful, which would, de facto, separate it from 99% of all book trailers. But there is so little time, and so much else to do. It seems an unwise allocation of the scant available resources. And yet, I seem to be pressing ahead with the project.
I'm hoping that the website is proving a more useful sales tool. And it's actually been fun, and I'll continue adding to it. But, I will admit, it also brings a share of frustration. I can tell from the stats I see for the pages every night that the traffic's halfway decent, but most people are spending an average of 2.20 minutes on the site. Which isn't even in the neighborhood of the time needed to actually see and read everything that's up. Yes, the site could be more straightforward. It could be a page screaming, "FUCKIN' BUY THE RED FUCKIN' TREE BY CAITLÍN R. FUCKIN' KIERNAN," but where would be the fun or artfulness in that? Yes, the website is oblique. Yes, it's something more than a straightforward advertisement. That's the point, to encourage people, to entice them, by actually augmenting the book before they've read it. But I feel like there's no besting that 140-character attention span, or the people who simply will not even try to explore.
So, yeah, I'm running uphill today. more even than usual. But I'm still running, which is something.